Armor-Crafting Glory Days

In my last post we talked about the rep grinds in Mists of Pandaria and how it's creating some problems for players. I see a lot of this as growing pains more than an actual crisis. As the expansion moves forward we'll unlock more content and the frustration will be less of an issue. The best way to deal with the current situation is to prioritize. So I thought I'd talk about that today and share my thoughts.

Some professions can be leveled purely through trainers and have no rep grinds associated with them. This includes Alchemy, Inscription, Enchanting and Engineering. Characters with these professions can function just fine without factions and arguably without grinding at all. I'm not going to say that you can maximize the profit potential of those characters without collecting Spirits of Harmony, but you can do a pretty good amount of crafting without it.

Jewelcrafting has a rep grind (Cloud Serpents) but the recipes they have are purely vanity items. You don't need that rep to make money with Jewelcrafting, so I personally classify this as a non-critical rep grind. Most Jewelcrafters can easily make money with the gem cuts and jewelry patterns they learned from the trainer.

This leaves the armor-crafting professions, which do require farming and rep grinding. To get the bulk of the level 90 patterns you need Spirits of Harmony. And to get pre-raid epic patterns you need Golden Lotus reputation. In terms of time investment, these three professions are the ones that truly merit a top priority status.

I want to talk about another reason why armor professions demand top status and that is because of raiding progression. The very first raid tier of any expansion is when the buying frenzy for gear is at its peak. This is also the period when crafted gear is at its most viable. Crafted gear is as competitive as it's ever going to be against raid drops. On top of this, crafted gear is one of the quickest ways that players can beef up their item level to get into a raid. Once additional raid content starts to come out, crafted gear will gradually slip into obsolescence.

I would argue that armor professions should be your priority right now. Your ability to capitalize on them will go down with every patch, so now is the time to focus on those characters if you want to utilize them. Other professions have pretty steady viability in future content patches, consumables from Alchemy, Jewelcrafting and Enchanting tend to spike up with every patch. Crafted armor often does not. So if you want to make the most of your armor professions, now is the time to do it.

My view is that Blacksmiths are the most important of the three armor crafters. They supply gear for tanks and melee DPS - the most gear dependent classes in the game. Plate gear is in high demand and top performance is more important to melee classes than ranged classes. So plate wearers are more apt to focus on getting the best gear they can to secure a raid spot. It remains to be seen whether monks will propel leather gear higher up the food chain, but for now I would vote Blacksmithing as the most important armor profession.

As far as my personal gameplan is concerned, my main character, Kaliope, is a Leatherworker. So focusing on her is a no-brainer for me. Yet over the last few weeks I've ping-ponged between my Engineer, my Jewelcrafter and my Blacksmith -- trying to give attention to all three.  Needless to say I've been disappointed with my ability to properly nurture them all. But since I started thinking through this priority list, I've settled on my Blacksmith as the next character to focus on. Since then she's gone up two more levels and has collected enough motes from questing to buy three more vendor patterns. Once she reaches 89 we're going to the Dread Wastes so she can get her Klaxxi rep up.

I hope my thoughts and personal musings help some of you who may also be struggling with how to prioritize your crafting activities. Feel free to leave your own ideas and opinions in the Comments!


  1. Excellent posting. This makes a lot of sense. Thanks for thinking it through and sharing.

  2. Thank you for the article and being the voice of calm in professions.

    I am being calmer by deciding that the priorities no longer matter. I am doing 6 alchemy, 5 inscription, 2 enchanting, 1 JC, and 1 tailoring daily. But at least until we see if 5.2 drops some stuff, does it really matter what my BS, LW, & tailor can do? If you need 470 for LfR and even scenarios drop 463 I just don't see buying or selling that much 450. Am I wrong, just how much demand for the 450 PvP gear is there? I got the one important disenchant tailoring & leatherworking pattern in September/October. It will be nice to get the leg enchants and belt buckle. Maybe some day exalted for the bag pattern but certainly would not start until after the revered rep boost. It could just be me, but I don't see that many raiding alts. I was killing DW twice a week on 4 toons for a while. But listening in mumble, there are not that many people excited about the grinds to get alts to raid.

    Sure lots of stuff sold for spectacular prices in October and some people are selling some things. But I don't see it being worth enough to be that bothered over it now. It way be interesting in 5.2 or 5.3 and definitely in 6.0 but does not seem like a priority now. Certainly, guessing what the bots will do and what that means for ore/herb prices seems more important and profitable than spending some SoH on patterns instead of Golden Lotuses to make some gear. Herbs still have a bit of a floor but there is little depreciating faster than hundreds of stacks of ghost iron sitting in a mailbox.

    I bought a 496 pattern but blood spirits are still rare enough that my investigation seems to indicate that anyone who would spend 60k just in blood shards to make a piece is probably a good candidate to get a raid drop.

    P.s.: a real irony is that, for me, the most anticipated 5.1 product will be cooking bags and that will benefit the engineers who upgrade them. Perhaps the Mayans were right if in these end days Engineers are more desirable than blacksmiths. :-)

    1. Wow, I'm getting tired just reading your ToDo list! I think 450 still has a place for those who want to jump into heroics and need a boost over quested gear. Also 450 can be used to fill out spots that you didn't get a 463 item yet. I know I'm selling a good amount of 450 tanking gear this past week, more than I expected!

      It's my understanding that the PVP gear is competitive because the PVP stats are on top of the other stats. So they don't replace PVE stats, they are a bonus. At least this was the rationale I got from a guildie who has LfR geared 2 different toons already. I think alts will get to raid, it just might take a little longer.

    2. It is 150 stacks of ore per month per alchemist and 600 stacks of green tea per month per scribe so it is nice that one can gather from the AH.

      Maybe I was just projecting because I am a wimp/lazy but after getting a main to 470 and doing the GL/K/SP/AC reps (And there is a new rep grind on the PTR), the idea of raiding on an alt is not something I am eager to jump back into. But I guess alts are a main end game so they will happen.

  3. Thanks for this interesting article as always, Kaliope. My experience: I got realm first in BS and Mining then went on to grind all the spirits i needed for the 450 armor recipes of all three types, dps, tank, and caster (took a while of course). Then using the addon TSM (a necessity) I have been selling all three armor types along with the leveling armor hardened obsidium and redsteel. These sets have been selling very well for me and i have been making from 10k to 25k per day. Best on weekends of course. I'm just shy of 500k now, having started at about 40k, (I spent a lot setting up my glyph operation), and since sales are so strong for armor I have only been buying ore rather than mining it. ghost iron has been available for about 4 to 5 gold per smelted bar and recently at 3.5 per bar so profit is good as prices have been staying high for the most part. More recently I have made the 476 plate gear but haven't found the sweet spot for its price yet and am offering at 8k now so we will see if it will sell at that price. The leveling gear is selling very well also. I have been selling that stuff for a long time before Mop and its always been good along with the two obsidium weapons, the executioner and the bladespear. My glyph experience has been only so so as one chap has an unbendable rule to offer all glyphs at (usually) 29g 99s 99c or some such but when he is not active i can make 3 to 4 k per day there too. I have learned to ignore the price fluctuations and frustrations associated with low-ballers and usually go have a chat with Nat Pagle and catch some rays and do a little relaxed fishing when the Gold business gets to be too much. Prices rise and fall but so long as you are making some gold don't get carried away with those who sell low, and if it's sow enough buy it and flip it. Thanks for your great efforts Kaliope you are the best .

    1. Thanks, glad you're enjoying the posts! I'm looking forward to getting my BS into the Golden Lotus recipes. Right now she's still collecting the Masterwork pieces but I'm already making nice money on the handful of recipes I have. So far that stuff is selling better for me than the PVP items.

      I'm not really doing glyphs either, too many other peeps on my realm who undercut you in a heartbeat. I don't want to put that much time into it so I focus on the other Scribe goodies like cards, etc. It's on an alt so it's not really a big deal to me.

  4. Thanks for all the help you have given us Crafters. I have an alt who is Scribe/Engineer, and he is hurting for SoH to make the BoA staves and getting those last 15 levels in engineering. So he will probably do the tiller grind at least. I am also prioritizing my BS, Tailor/enchanter, and LW for Tiller and Golden lotus. Getting very tired of all the dailies, though. I've sold no armor, the market has dropped out on the PVP gear. Do you think the Darkmoon cards of the Mist are worth the effort? Insane amount of herb gathering is required.

    1. I think the DMF cards are a good choice if you don't mind the "insane" herb gathering. I've actually been buying herbs for my Scribe since they dropped to the 20-30g/stack range. I can make the cards for a pretty good profit over my cost. However, the prices on cards seem to be dropping pretty quickly week to week. If you're the skittish type, this may not be the market to jump into.

      Also, I had really good luck with my Engineer grinding the last 20 or so skill points on the Trillium Sniper rifle. This takes SoH to do (of course) but you can get 5 points for the scope and 5 more points turning the scope into the gun. I've already sold a couple of guns for a nice profit and the competition is notably lower than crafted armor. Just a thought :)

    2. Grats on the cheap herbs! Via vendoring shoulder enchants you can get half a starlight ink and 31g per stack of herbs so I can't see them dropping much below that.

      Just curious, what do you consider the cost of your DMC? With those herb prices, I can't see anyone using the ink trader. An extreme of saying the Starlight ink is free is not accurate. But if I can vendor IoD for 6.24 I see no way to allocate less than 6.24 to IoD. So people milling 30g herbs are getting paid; but how much?

      There was considerable resistance to spending big gold on DMC decks this faire and I am sure the prices will be less next faire.

    3. Well I am easily finding stacks of green tea leaf for 20-25 gold each, which I purchase in blocks of 10 and mill into 4-5 starlight ink and 40-50 ink of dreams. And yes, I do trade the ink stacks for the other 5 starlight ink to make the card. Currently I am having no trouble selling cards for at least 1000g on my realm. Some folks are charging more than that, but I'm moving my cards fairly easily at that price. When I was going for 1500-2500/card I was having to relist a lot.

      I consider my cost to be the 250g or so that I shell out on the herbs. While I realize that you can use the vendor price as the floor for the herbs, I can't mark up an item I'm vendoring. But I can convert the inks and turn that into a card worth at least 1000g. While I may be theoretically devaluing the inks, my actual investment is still the original 250g.

      On the other hand, I don't consider the starlight ink to be free. I consider it to be equivalent to the cost of 10 ink of dreams or however many herbs it requires to make them.

      Personally I don't really bother with the spreadsheet/cost tracking model of selling. If I can't make a clear profit on something by checking mats vs market value on TUJ, I just don't make that item.

    4. Hi,
      I think right now imho it's late for 476 crafted items because of Raid Finder: not just because of 476 drop items but also 483 on last 2 wings. More wings/chances to get same or even better gear: people just doesn't invest more gold on 476 (I'm trying to sell my last 2 items and hardly selling them at 3k, no worth!).
      And... what about 496 items on your server? Do they sell good? Can you craft them at reasonable price (cost of bloods)? JFYI on my server (Drakkari) cost of each blood is ~4K and therefore there is no still market for 496 items...

    5. The economy of a server can be driven by a number of things - so my mileage is surely going to differ on other realms. Raid progression on my server is pretty slow, I just saw the Realm First Heroic Mogu'shan Vaults go out last night. That's a good six weeks after top guilds did the same. GuildOx ranks my realm right about the middle of the pack (312 out of 594 realms).

      I'm seeing pretty crazy prices for 496 gear (30-50k per crafted item) and blood spirits hovering around 6k. I'm not seeing a lot of sales on these items, TUJ is recording maybe 1 sale a week. In fact, I just saw a 496 Leather recipe priced at 7k on my realm over the weekend and I ultimately passed on it because I didn't feel comfortable that there would be enough buyers to justify purchasing the mats.

      On the other hand, I'm moving a good amount of 450-476 gear. Both my Leatherworker and Blacksmith are making crafted PVP and doing quite well. Kaliope also has her GL rep and she's sold several epics too. I think it helps that it takes a while to collect 6-8 SoH, which makes it hard for any one seller to flood the market with epics. Based on my own guild and the raid progression on my realm, I think the bulk of our population is still in the Raid Finder phase of gearing. Consequently, I'm feeling pretty good about my ability to sell pre-raid/early raid items at this point. I suspect it will be another month or two before 496 is in demand for us.